Background: Immunotherapy has had a long history in cancer treatment and, with recent breakthroughs, new drugs are available that have shown promising results.
Objectives: The current article discusses an overview of immune function, including immunoediting and the theory of immune checkpoints, as well as specific drugs that have been approved as immune checkpoint inhibitors. Additional discussion includes a review of nursing implications and administration, side effects, adverse events, and the future of immuno-oncology.
Methods: This review of literature focused on locating, summarizing, and synthesizing data from published articles, the American Cancer Society, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and literature from pharmaceutical manufacturers that focused on immunotherapy treatment options that use checkpoint inhibition. Search criteria included articles published from 2005–2015 and archived in CINAHL®, OVID®, and PubMed databases using the key words immunotherapy, immune checkpoint inhibition, PD-1, PD-L1, CTLA-4, and oncology.
Findings: Cancer therapy targeting immune checkpoint inhibition has shown promising results and continues to evolve. Oncology nurses need to remain abreast of new immune-modulating therapies to understand their efficacy, as well as side effect management.